Edge Theater partnering up with new Benchmark Theatre

Emily Tuckman Amy Gray Patty Ionoff

The Edge Theater Company, which has been among the most prolific theatre-making organizations in the local community for the past seven years, announced today it is both scaling back and entering into a year-round partnership with the new Benchmark Theatre Company, which officially launches tonight with the opening of The Nether at Buntport Theater.

Since 2010, The Edge has produced 49 plays (and one musical), which has infused the local theatre with many challenging titles and award-winning performances. But that also has taken its toll on the husband-and-wife team of Rick Yaconis and Patty Ionoff Yaconis, who have operated all aspects of The Edge Theatre while also maintaining outside careers.

So starting next year, The Edge will present four titles per year, with the new Benchmark making up the difference with four of its own. So to the audience base, there will be no change in the amount of programming offered at the freestanding theatre and art gallery known as 40 West located at 1560 Teller St. in Lakewood that has been home to The Edge since Yaconis assumed the former E-Project Theatre in 2010.

Edge Theatre. Photo by John Moore“Producing an eight-show season with a focus on high-quality entertainment has been rewarding,” said Rick Yaconis. “We are now focused on maintaining the quality while balancing other life goals. But we are committed to maintaining the overall number of events in our space, so Benchmark Theatre is a key partner to continue meeting our objectives without interruption.”

Rick and Patty Yaconis renamed the E-Project Theatre as The Edge Theatre with the stated objective of lifting it from the overcrowded pack of small, similar neighborhood troupes in the Denver area. And The Edge has taken unmistakable steps toward its stated goal – namely in the hiring of top directors and actors, and continuing to present challenging and often provocative fare.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Benchmark Theatre is newly founded by local artists Haley Johnson and Rachel Bouchard, whose inaugural production of The Nether is being staged through April 23 at Buntport Theater.

“We are excited to join The Edge as partners,” said Bouchard. “Most all of our team members have worked at The Edge and are very familiar with the space.”

Added Johnson: “We are certain this partnership will be mutually beneficial for both theater groups, and will certainly have a positive impact on the diverse and meaningful entertainment in the West Colfax corridor.” 

From 2016: New Benchmark Theatre plans to have a deep bench

Ironically, just this week, The Edge Theatre won a Westword Best of Denver Award for the category “Best Reason to Buy Season Tickets.” Both companies won 2016 True West Awards: Benchmark for organizing Denver’s After Orlando response to the worst gun massacre in U.S. history; Edge Associate Artistic Director Warren Sherrill for his work as both actor and director. Also, Managing Director Patty Ionoff Yacoinis was recognized for being largely responsible for 2016 being designated “The Year of Women” at The Edge. 

For those actors, designers and crew who might lament the halving of Edge programming, Johnson said there is no need to worry. “Benchmark Theatre commits to holding fully open auditions for our productions including hiring locally as well as offering diverse casting opportunities,” she said. “There’s so much incredible talent in this state; we’re excited to tap in to it.”

Photo gallery: Opening night at Benchmark Theatre’s launch

Benchmark Theatre launches

Photos from opening night of Benchmark Theatre’s inaugural production of ‘The Nether on March 31 at Buntport Theater. The cast includes Haley Johnson, Marc Stith, Jim Hunt, Ella Madison and Cameron Varner. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCA NewsCenter. All are downloadable for free. Follow our coverage of the local theatre community at MyDenverCenter.Org

Upcoming for The Edge Theatre:

Through April 2: The Nance
April 21-May 21: Misery
June 9-July 2: Mud Blue Sky
July 14-Aug. 6: Bad Jews
Aug. 25-Sept. 17: Dinner
Oct. 6-Nov. 5: A Delicate Balance
Dec. 1-31: Resolutions
Information: 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

Upcoming for Benchmark Theatre:
March 31-April 23: The Nether
At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St.
Tickets at the door or online at benchmarktheatre.com.
Further programming will be announced in late July

The Nether 800

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